Get creative and have fun transforming humble greenery into the hero of entertaining season with my simple tips.
Use seasonal produce for maximum flavour.
Capitalise on in-season produce for max ripeness, quality and flavour. A pop of sweetness goes a long way with a salad, so experimenting with ripe in-season fruit is always a good idea.
You can’t go past a cheeky mango this time of year - they are super sweet, juicy and sure to be a crowd fave. Flavours do vary but the Kensington Pride is a consistent varietal that is rich and juicy with abundant sweetness.
Stone fruits also enter the group chat during summer, and are a perfect fresh or chargrilled addition to your salad. Chargrilling fruit unlocks more flavour from the caramelisation of the natural sugars, adding a unique depth and fanciness to wow your guests.
Don’t skimp on the dressing.
A dressing has the potential to transform a basic blend of ingredients into a culinary masterpiece, so don’t skimp on it.
If you don’t already make salad dressings from scratch this is your sign to. Not only will this give you the flexibility to customise to your liking, but you’ll soon have the skills down pat to create your own on the fly.
Depending on the style of dressing you’re going for, like a light vinaigrette or a creamy based dressing, there are rules and ratios to balance flavours.
Salad dressings also keep quite well in the fridge for a few days so make it ahead of time to save rushing at the last minute.
Embrace different textures.
This isn’t an exclusive club for soft salad leaves, that would be boring and um, flavourless.
Here we welcome ingredients in all shapes and textures, because diversity is important in a salad, or a creamy element like indulgent crumbled goats cheese or avocado help us to appreciate the contrasting textures and flavours the salad has to offer.
Try to add something soft, crisp, creamy and crunchy for the ultimate salad team.
Learn how to layer.
A quick and dirty salad toss does the job for a midweek dinner, but when you’ve carefully prepped the ingredients for a special summer soiree, give those julienne carrots the moment they deserve.
Deconstructing a salad is a creative way to showcase your work - if you have a creamy whipped component like in the recipe below, layer that bad boy thick on the bottom of a contrasting plate, top with leaves and drizzle with dressing.
This means all the ingredients get their 15 minutes of fame, whilst piquing the interest of your hungry guests.
Garnishes are never not good.
We eat with our eyes first, so a pretty salad just tastes better. It’s salad math.
Think of a salad garnish like a star on top of the Christmas tree, it’s the finishing touch that gives it that well earned sparkle!
But don’t go overboard here, just something simple that offers a little extra texture or visual contrast whilst complementing the overall taste will do. My go-to’s are fresh herbs, crispy shallots, seeds, or if you’re feeling extra festive, add fresh pomegranate arils for a Christmas-y touch!
Hey! Here’s one I prepared earlier! (If you haven’t already been dishing it up for dinner every night since being shared on the Go-To Instagram.)
Time: 20 minutes
Go-To Spring Salad
1 radicchio head, broken into individual leaves
1 punnet of fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
500g ripe watermelon, slices into small wedges
Handful of fresh mint salad leaves
Whipped Goats Cheese
1 log of goats cheese
3 tbsp cream cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 tbsp honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 shallot, finely sliced
1/4 red wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
- Start off by preparing the dressing. Add all the ingredients together in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside until needed.
- To whip the goats cheese, add all the ingredients to a food processor (or NutriBullet) and whip on high until combined and it’s a light, spreadable texture - you might have to whip in increments. If it’s too thick, add a little extra lemon juice or a dash of water to thin it out.
- To assemble the salad, spread whipped goats cheese in a thin layer on a large serving plate or shallow bowl, scatter with radicchio and top with watermelon and strawberries. Drizzle with dressing right before serving and garnish with mint leaves!